I've been talking about this Soulja Boy Web phenomenon every moment I get -- on my own blog, in blog comments, in face-to-face conversations. So of course it was funny today, when perusing my Google Reader for coverage of Pop!Tech and Web 2.0 Summit (mainly because I missed not actually having been there), that I ran across this bit of information on the Popular Science Blog about a Soulja Boy discussion at Web 2.0.
Apparently, Hitwise charted the Soulja Boy boom by tracking the amount of traffic streaming from social networking sites to search engines to his official Web site, and predicted back in May that the rapper (who was virtually unknown at the time) would become a major mainstream success.
And just in case you don't know what Hitwise does, peep this:
The Hitwise online competitive intelligence service provides daily insights on how 25 million people interact with over 1 million websites in 160+ industries. Our unique, global network of Internet usage data is integrated into our user friendly service, helping you better plan, implement and report on your online branding, search marketing, content strategies and online partnerships.
Now we're not saying this is the best of hip-hop, but we're definitely saying, well at least I am, it's the best example I've seen of an artist utilizing the power of the Web to break his career. Sure, Cassie broke on YouTube, but how many records did she sell? The truth is, all the work on YouTube, MySpace, et. al. paid off for this cat. I'm sure the fact that he created dance lesson videos didn't hurt either. We know that a lot of these dirty south dance songs end up being one-hit wonders for a lot of artists, but this Web community built up around this artist is outrageous. You won't see me cranking anything anytime soon, but I can respect Web gansterism when I see it.
Now read this:
Thanks largely to YouTube, "Crank That," the song and dance, have been ubiquitous for the past three months. Since it was posted in August, the instructional clip featuring Soulja Boy doing the moves has been viewed on YouTube more than 11 million times. Video variations of the song, including manipulated Winnie the Pooh and Dora the Explorer cartoons, have also become Internet hits.
That may be true because the rapper established his song and dance on the Internet before securing a major-label deal. But "Crank That" - built on a rudimentary arrangement featuring little more than finger snaps and a bouncy keyboard riff - is hardly groundbreaking. Like the "Macarena," the song and dance are hot for the moment.
They don't have classes in school on this stuff you know. There's no handbook. This is the closest you're going to get to a case study right now. This is Hip-Hop 2.0.